Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc not buying Fernando Alonso comments

Hamilton opens up on plans to remain in F1 ahead of new season

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Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc do not believe Fernando Alonso’s comments on Aston Martin’s expectations. The British manufacturer impressed everyone in pre-season testing with the team understood to have made massive progress.

The new AMR23 impressed over three days in Sakhir with pundits tipping the squad to challenge at the sharp end at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

However, Alonso played down expectations ahead of the season with a more realistic verdict. The Spaniard warned it was impossible to jump from the midfield to the front so quickly with new upgrades set to come later in the year.

Alonso explained: “We’ll give our best on the race. But there’s no target for us. I think we need to keep learning about the car, only had two days of testing in a completely new car and package, and I think the top three teams they were in another league last year.

“They were lapping sometimes even the fourth team and basically only seven cars finished on the same lap so we cannot make that kind of step in only one week.”

But, Hamilton and Leclerc do not believe Alonso’s pessimism and have tipped the team to challenge at the front this season. Hamilton said of Aston Martin: “Firstly I’m really happy to see that Aston has taken such a step forward, they are as far as we know, fully in the fight.

“Through all the days [of testing] you don’t know what fuel loads people are on and different things and it’s a bit all over the place but it looks like they’re very, very strong. They could be fighting right at the front, we’ll find out over the next day or so. I can’t say whether they’re ahead of us or we’re behind them.

“We’ll find out but I’m always hoping that there will be more than just two or three teams in the mix so I think we’re seeing that which is a positive.”

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On Thursday, George Russell tipped Mercedes to be in a fight for second with Ferrari and Aston Martin at the first race. Meanwhile, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff also suggested Aston Martin could be as high as P2 on Sunday.

Ferrari have also raised concerns about Aston Martin’s potential ability early on in the campaign. Carlos Sainz said Aston Martin’s pace was “great for F1” and revealed he was “excited” to have another team at the front.

Leclerc also feels the former midfield challengers will be a threat in 2023, commenting: “I think they will be in the mix, they will fight at the top at least I think.”

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